SMSG Blog

Expedition blogs and news from the Shallow Marine Surveys Group

We’re back on island - this time with a smaller team of twelve

This the second phase of a SMSG/South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute (SAERI) expedition funded by the Darwin Initiative to examine the marine biodiversity of Ascension Island. Our team of 12 started to arrive on the 24th May. Lt.Col. Simon Browning and Sarah Browning arrived first with our freight. Elizabeth Clingham and Judith and Steve Brown arrived from sunny St Helena on the Tuesday 28th. The rest of us arrived on the 31st May from a cold and blustery Falkland Islands.


Jude's Bath

Lt Col. Browning said “Surprise is a principle of war not logistics! With foresight and good planning everything has come together.” However, our start to the survey was not without its problems. Ascension Island’s dive club’s compressor was out of order. We found this out before the Falkland Islands' component departed so we were able to fly up a portable one.


Fish Chopping1

The objective of this ten day survey is to build on the first by targeting the intertidal  quantitatively, revisiting sites surveyed before to examine the community structure of different habitats on temporal scales and to visit sites and areas not surveyed previously. Efforts so far have already yielded a new species record for Ascension Island, a white spotted octopus (Octopus macropus). This species is active at night and is distributed in the east and west Atlantic but is not known from around Ascension Island. Judith Brown said “It is amazing to see the seasonal changes in fish communities, particularly the small recruitment of juvenile endemic Hawkish.” And Paul Brewin exclaimed “It’s awesome to be back”.


Watch this space – we’ll keep you posted on out progress and discoveries.


Paul's Office

The survey team:

  • Dr Paul Brickle (SAERI/SMSG – Expedition Leader)

  • Dr Judith Brown (SMSG/St Helena Government – Dive Officer)

  • Steve Brown (SMSG – Technical Services)

  • Steve Cartwright (SMSG – Technical Services)

  • Dr Martin Collins (SMSG/GSGSSI – Marine Ecologist)

  • Dr Vladimir Laptikhovsky (SMSG/CEFAS - Marine Ecologist)

  • Lt. Col. Simon Browning (SMSG/BFSAI – Logistics/Marine Ecologist)

  • Sarah Browning (SMSG/BFSAI – Marine Ecologist)

  • Dr Alexander Arkhipkin (SMSG/Falkland Islands Government Fisheries Department - Sclerochronology)

  • Dr Paul Brewin (SMSG/Falkland Islands Government Fisheries Department – Marine Ecologist)

  • Zhanna Shcherbich (SMSG/Falkland Islands Government Fisheries Department - Sclerochronology)

  • Elizabeth Clingham (SMSG/St Helena Government – Marine Ecologist)

  • Emily Hancox (SMSG/SAERI - Marine Ecologist)


As always we are extremely grateful to AIG, particularly Collin Wells (Administrator), Hamish Stewart (Director of Resources), Nicola and Sam Webber and the rest of the Conservation team. We are also grateful to Caz Yon for all of her help.
Ascension Island fish record
The Elusive Parrotfish

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Saturday, 22 June 2024

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